The Sick Man of Europe…

…wasn’t that Turkey? Not anymore. A German group funded a study which appeared in Die Welt and was reported on in today’s Telegraph. The results aren’t pretty:

The country whose post-war recovery was hailed as an economic miracle is no longer basking in prosperity but increasingly languishing in poverty, especially when compared with rival nations….The turnaround is likely to prove a huge blow to a nation which prided itself on its high standards of living and looked down on the rest of Europe as workshy, inefficient and technologically backward.
By 2011, per capita income in Germany will have been overtaken by Spain, until recently one of the poorest in the European Union. Most startling is the finding that Germany has fallen way behind Britain in economic performance and individual purchasing power.

This graphic tells the story of Germany’s decline:
wger01.jpg
Germany is plagued by the same problems that have bedeviled Western Europe since World War II: the welfare state combined with an archaic union system:

Experts from the New Social Market Economy Initiative recommend that the German government follow Britain’s example and concentrate on tackling problems in the highly-regulated labour market in order to pull Germany out of its malaise.
“The recipes are out there,” said Tasso Enzweiler, of the New Social Market Initiative. “To follow them we just need the British will, which is sadly lacking in Germany.”
The symptoms of decline are everwhere to seen and the impact on the country’s morale has been dire. Its once generous welfare state now looks completely unaffordable and Germany is now suffering a brain drain of scientists.
A people with a reputation as the hardest-working in Europe have come to hate work and unemployment has reached a higher level than at any other time since the Second World War.

I’d guess that most blog readers are too young to remember the days when virtually all Democrats berated the U.S. for not being more like Germany and Japan, which were held up as exemplars of “modern,” liberal economies. Liberals muttered darkly about the grim futures faced by Ronald Reagan’s America and Margaret Thatcher’s Great Britain.
One nice thing about politics, I guess, is that there are so many “do overs.” You can be wrong time after time and still make a nice living, courtesy of the Sulzbergers, or whoever. But still: at some point, don’t people start to notice?

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